The development of artificial turf has been a revolutionary technology in the landscaping industry and has become a widely adopted method of achieving a lush, green lawn almost instantly. The minimal upkeep required for artificial turf maintenance appeals to many property owners as evidenced by the 40-45 million square feet of synthetic grass that’s installed annually in the United States. Although synthetic turf has gained significant popularity over the past decade, many are still skeptical of the safety hazards associated with artificial turf.
Because of artificial turf’s potential of containing harmful chemical compounds, risk of overheating, and adverse environmental impacts, many people are asking the question: “Is artificial turf safe?”
To be as concise as possible, the short answer is yes, artificial turf is safe. The long answer is that the extent to which it’s safe for you and the environment depends on the brand.
All artificial turf is produced by combining synthetic fibers to resemble blades of grass and placing an infill on the layer to keep it stable; however, the materials used to produce the turf vary from company to company. The materials used in the infill and blades are usually petroleum-based or plant-based. While experts agree that neither of these choices has any severe health impacts, SYNLawn believes that biobased turf is both more environmentally responsible and safer for your health.
The Evolution of Artificial Turf
In order to answer the question ‘is artificial turf safe?’, we must first understand how the materials used in synthetic turf have evolved over time.
The prototype of artificial turf called “Chemgrass’ debuted in 1964 when an American biotech corporation called Monsanto used tightly curled nylon fiber that was woven into a foam backing to create a low-maintenance alternative to grass. The product gained public notoriety in 1966 when it was installed in the Houston Astrodome and promptly renamed “AstroTurf ”.
By the early 2000s, the turf industry was looking for a way to stabilize the synthetic blades to create a more durable surface. This resulted in the use of styrene-butadiene rubber, or “crumb rubber,” as an infill. The infill contained tiny black crumbs made from pulverized car tires that were poured between the artificial blades. The rubber infill gave the field more bounce and cushioned the impact for athletes, reducing serious injuries like concussions.
For the past two decades, crumb rubber infill has been dominantly used for sports fields, playground turf, pet turf, and residential turf. Crumb rubber turf fields have had notable benefits for the environment including diverting millions of tires from landfills, eliminating the need for fertilizer and pesticides, and conserving thousands of gallons of water annually.
However, because crumb rubber is a petroleum-based polyethylene, in recent years people have become more skeptical of the risks that a tire-based product may have on their health which has led to extensive scientific testing.
Is Artificial Turf Safe According to the Experts?
In response to this public concern, four Connecticut state agencies, the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC), The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a two-year comprehensive evaluation of the health and environmental impacts associated with artificial turf fields containing crumb rubber infill.
The results of this study indicate that “in spite of worst-case assumptions, cancer risks were only slightly above de minimis levels for all scenarios evaluated.” In layman’s terms, this means that crumb rubber infill turf only increased the risk of cancer by a trivial amount. This amount is no higher than the health risks posed by ambient pollution sources, and they are below target risks associated with many air toxics regulatory programs.
Based upon their findings, the State of Connecticut concluded that outdoor and indoor artificial turf fields are NOT associated with elevated health risks from the inhalation of volatile or particle-bound chemicals from crumb rubber.
The SYNLawn Difference
In summary, crumb rubber is equally as harmful as our air, so it doesn’t increase health risks. But we believe that we can do even better than just matching the toxins in our air. That’s why we’ve gone the extra mile to ensure that our artificial turf is made of the highest quality plant-based materials that are safe for your health and the environment.
We’ve made our turf safer than our competitors in the following ways:
- Replaced over 70% of the petroleum-based polyol of competitors’ turf with a plant-based polyol made using soybeans.
- SYNLawn’s exclusive EnviroLoc™ Backing System is an environmentally-friendly, multi-layer component system that “locks” in durable turf fibers, thereby, extending the product’s life cycle.
- Scientifically proven, SYNLawn’s exclusive HeatBlock Technology lowers rising temperatures by reflecting sunlight, thus reducing heat build-up and thermal emissivity. SYNLawn with HeatBlock Technology incorporates infrared reflective pigments that help dissipate heat build-up and reduce fiber emissivity by as much as 20% cooler than similar artificial turf products.
- SYNRenew™ synthetic turf combines soy-based EnviroLoc™ backing technology with polyethylene fibers made from sugarcane technology to produce a new and completely bio-based synthetic turf product.
- Because manufacturing 1 lb of petroleum-based polyethylene releases 5.5 lbs. of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we’ve opted for sugarcane and soybean technology to produce our synthetic fibers.
As a lifestyle brand, SYNLawn’s goal is to help educate consumers on why artificial grass is a great option to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as eliminate the use of harmful chemicals when it comes to landscaping applications.
So is artificial turf safe? Ours is! While experts agree that all artificial turf is relatively safe for your health, we believe your home, family, pets, and our planet deserve the absolute best, not just the minimum. That’s why we’ve made it our priority to ensure our synthetic turf is safe for your health and the environment. If you’re interested in investing in the most sustainable artificial turf on the market, browse our products and contact us at 206-785-2897.
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